James Salter

Mr. Salter, whom I should have included in my original list of writer’s  writers, died on June 19 of this year. I can think of only one other contemporary writer, Gina Berriault (“Women in Their Beds”), who has written as fine a collection of short stories as Salter’s “Last Night,” published in 2005. His final novel, “All That Is,” considered his most accessible, grounded work, published in 2013, made him moderately successful. Up to then his memoir “Burning the Days” (one of the all-time great book titles) was probably his most well-known book. He also wrote several screenplays, one of which, “Downhill Racer,” made into a movie with Robert Redford, is one you might recognize, but you can be forgiven if you don’t as it wasn’t all that memorable. In all he wrote six novels, a book of poetry, three screenplays (one of which he also directed), two story collections, and his “Collected Stories”  also appeared in 2013. As the title of the Esquire appreciation of him, published two days after his death, has it: “James Salter: The Greatest Writer You’ve Never Read,” and Richard Ford said of him,“Sentence for sentence, Salter is the master.” But don’t take their (or my) word for it, see for yourself, you’ll likely find it an unforgettable experience.

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